Mad Men, "Ladies Room": you’re dessert [Key Series Moments]

As we wait for the arrival of Season Five, currently scheduled to premiere in early 2012, stay tuned to TV Geek Army all summer long to get your Mad Men fix. Here we take a look at a key series moment from Season One, Episode Two: “Ladies Room.”

betty draper

While “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” focuses tightly on Don Draper and introduces to the world of Mad Men through his (smoky) eyes, we spend a relatively large chunk of time away from him during “Ladies Room” as the story lens widens to focus on Betty Draper and her domestic life in Ossining and Peggy Olson as she attempts to adjust to office life at Sterling Cooper. These story decisions pay off grandly over the course of the season as we get to further invest ourselves in characters from the large cast.

While Don and his creative team at Sterling Cooper try to figure out “what women want” in order to better sell products to them, we see Betty and Peggy struggle to figure out how they are supposed to act and what they are supposed to say while consistently being forced away from articulating what they want at home and at work and in relationships.

By our modern standards, the way in which Ken, Harry, and Dale brazenly hit on and demean Peggy during her lunch outing at the diner would be cause for the easiest case of sexual harassment ever. However, the gender roles of the time are such that Peggy and Joan are barely even able to acknowledge how bad these boys are acting. To whit:

  • “You know, maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but you are the subject of much debate. Money riding on the outcome.” – Harry
  • “Money for me?” Peggy asks innocently.
  • “Now there’s even a third possibility: paying you.” - Dale
  •                                 mad men

    And to make things even more outrageous, Ken pulls Peggy aside a moment later and tries to persuade her to “take the afternoon off” so that they can “go to the zoo.”

    Of course, the girls volunteered to tag along on this little social outing and got received a free lunch out of it. And we see that it is treated merely as “just another day at the office” circa Sterling Cooper 1960 in many ways. But we see that it begins to take its toll on Peggy, who is as yet naïve to the ways of office life in the big city.  

    Later in the episode, after a few charming if unsuccessful advances, Paul Kinsey full on throws himself at Peggy in his office. “We can pull the couch up behind the door,” he adds as part of his pitch.

    Peggy becomes ruffled at being eyed at as “dessert” by all the men of the office and soon after becomes snippy with Joan about it. But it’s interesting – and Mad Men is expert at working at these kinds of multiple levels – that she has already hit on her own boss if but shyly (Peggy puts her hand on Don’s near the end of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”) and slept with Pete on the night of his bachelor party.

    “I’m from Bay Ridge. We have manners,” Peggy declares rather emphatically.

    “Look dear, I don’t know you that well. But you’re the new girl and you’re not much, so you might as well enjoy it while it lasts,” Joan replies.  

    By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at]-tvgeekarmy.com 

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